Ending a marriage requires settling various financial matters between the divorcing spouses. In every marriage, each spouse owns their own respective separate property, and the couple shares ownership of marital property. This generally includes income earned by both spouses during their marriage, property purchased jointly, and all assets and debts acquired during their marriage. Divorce requires the spouses to divide their marital property, and every state uses a different method for accomplishing this fairly in divorce.
Illinois is one of many US states to use an equitable distribution law. This property division method aims to ensure the fairest possible division of marital assets and debts in divorce by accounting for as many details as possible between the divorcing spouses. The equitable distribution standard typically aims to resolve property division with some measure of finality, negating the need for ongoing spousal support arrangements. However, every divorce is unique, and it is possible for spousal support to come into play in any Illinois divorce in which the spouses have vastly different earning power.
Regardless of what your divorce may involve, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must resolve property division and various other financial issues to complete your divorce. Johnson O’Keefe can provide the communicative and detail-oriented legal representation you need on your side to approach your case with greater confidence and peace of mind.
Every divorce is different, and some divorcing couples are more agreeable than others when it comes to negotiating their divorce terms. When most people in the Chicago area think of divorce, they imagine emotionally charged courtroom battles, while the reality is that most divorcing couples opt for alternative dispute resolution. While it’s not possible to solve every issue in every divorce through private settlement, alternative dispute resolution can provide substantial flexibility to divorcing couples negotiating property division.
Under the equitable distribution standard, the court expects divorcing spouses to split their marital assets and assign separate responsibilities for shared debts as fairly as possible. While it is possible to litigate a divorce and let a judge settle property division, the judge’s interpretation of what would be “fairest” isn’t likely to align with either of the divorcing spouses’ expectations. When a divorcing couple is willing to explore alternative dispute resolution, they have more flexibility in negotiating property division under the equitable distribution law.
Both spouses must provide complete financial disclosure statements that include all necessary financial records. If a divorcing spouse intends to assert separate property ownership rights, they must include all supporting documentation in their financial disclosure statement. All other marital property must be divided equally. The spouses could decide to liquidate certain assets and divide the proceeds, and a judge will likely require similar actions if a couple litigates property division. By exploring alternative dispute resolution, divorcing spouses may effectively negotiate “trades” of specific assets and otherwise customize their property division agreements to their preference.
The financial disclosure statement you provide to the court is the most important first step in your property division proceedings. Next comes your separate property ownership claims. In Illinois, separate property can include any property you inherited from your parents and other family members, family heirlooms, gifts, and anything given to you in a “donatory” capacity by your spouse. It is important for all divorcing spouses to remember that the distinctions between “marital” and “separate” property also apply to debt in divorce. It’s common for disputes to arise in divorce proceedings when a couple argues over responsibility for certain debts.
In most cases, the court will treat a debt the same as physical property. If one spouse held the debt prior to marrying or acquired it without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent, they would likely face sole responsibility for the debt. If a spouse intentionally wastes marital assets or attempts to leave their spouse with credit card debt by squandering shared accounts during divorce, they can face severe penalties.
If you are unsure what qualifies as your separate property and your individual debt, it’s vital to consult an experienced Chicago property division attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be an invaluable resource for identifying, classifying, and valuing all property and debt involved in your divorce proceedings. When you choose Johnson O’Keefe to represent you, you can expect responsive and meticulous guidance through all stages of property division in your divorce.
Every divorce is unique, and while all property divisions in Illinois must unfold under the equitable distribution standard, there are many variables that can influence the financial aspects of a final divorce order. Johnson O’Keefe has a strong reputation for reliable and comprehensive divorce representation in Chicago, IL. In addition, our team knows the challenges facing divorcing spouses in the area and the difficulties they face in property division proceedings. Some of the variables that can easily complicate your impending property division determination include:
Johnson O’Keefe specializes in helping clients resolve their divorce in the most efficient ways possible, and this usually entails alternative dispute resolution. However, if you must resolve your property division determination in court, you can rely on Johnson O’Keefe to represent you in litigation, helping ensure the judge delivers a fair ruling in your case. If you have questions about property division in Illinois divorce or need to speak with a Chicago property division attorney about your situation, contact Johnson O’Keefe to schedule a consultation with our team.
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